Born 1960 Stockport, Cheshire; guitar
John Bisset received early training on the piano, but from 11 preferred the guitar, on which he was left to his own devices. In 1975 he became involved with the Manchester Musicians' Collective, whose core included Trevor Wishart (electro acoustic composer), Simon Holt (classical composer), Tony Friel (cellist and bass player with The Fall) and Dick Witts (percussionist, journalist and organiser). Bisset's early works were compositions and structures for improvisations on the piano, guitar, viol and assorted objects (paint tins, tent poles, etc), performed at the Collective's eclectic nights at the Band-on-the-Wall, Manchester.
In 1977, caught up in the spirit of New Wave, he became lead guitarist in the Spherical Objects, and also began writing song-based material, singing and playing guitar in a duo with Richard Westwood on saxophone and toys. With the addition of trombone, bass and drums this duo became the band Grow Up, recording two albums, an e.p and a single. Throughout this time Bisset was giving equal attention to visual art, as a painter and printmaker. He graduated from Ravensbourne Art College in 1982 and spent the following years attempting to sythesise these interests in writing musical-theatre ranging stylistically from Jarryesque pantomime to abstract electronic opera.
Around 1987 his activities split into making theatre with children, practising pure painting, writing songs for the group Suddenly Last Summer and improvising freely with The Mosquitoes. Since 1995 he has worked exclusively in music: as guitarist, composer and organiser of events.
Improvisation: His initial choice of the guitar was as an instrument unhampered by rules, and the majority of his live performances are as a free improviser, including collaborations with Pat Thomas (keyboards & electronics), Charles Hayward (drums), John Edwards (double bass), Mark Sanders (drums) and Kaffe Matthews (live sampling). Over recent years he has predominantly improvised on acoustic with a pared down simplicity which focuses on the instrument's essential properties: a wooden box with strings. His most regular partners in this area include Rhodri Davies (harp) and Burkhard Beins (drums).
The London Electric Guitar Orchestra was formed in 1995. The group explores and celebrates the vast range of sonic possibilities of the electric guitar, and has progressed from dadaist irreverence and anarchic performances through deconstructed song forms to its current combination of improvisation and composition, with Bisset as conductor.
Relay takes place annually in London, periodically in Berlin and most recently in Athens. It involves 3 venues and 13 musicians rotating through the venues in randomly created combinations such that the number playing at each venue is always the same: when one arrives, another must leave. Two Relays are documented on cd: Relay III (1995) and Relay Eight (2000).John Bisset has organised the 2:13 Club (London/Berlin/Athens) since 1994 - presenting monthly concerts of experimental and improvised music, Relays and occasional Festivals. This is run with Burkhard Beins (Berlin) and Nikos Veliotis (Athens). The associated label is 2:13 Music.
John Bissets' current activities include:
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